Statements in Support of California Hunger Strikers

World Can't Wait supporters and friends have been writing to the California prison authorities in support of the California prison hunger strike
which is in its 17th day.  More statements are posted on Revolution.

In the next 72 hours, we need to bring public awareness and public outcry about this situation to a new level, involving respected voices of conscience, or people are going to die. Some of the hunger strikers are already in renal failure

“Our indefinite isolation here is both inhumane and illegal and the proponents of the prison industrial complex are hoping that their campaign to dehumanize us has succeeded to the degree that you don’t care and will allow the torture to continue in your name. It is our belief that they have woefully underestimated the decency, principles and humanity of the people. Join us in opposing this injustice without end. Thank you for your time and support.”
-- Statement from inmates at Corcoran State Prison

The prisoners are counting on people of conscience to act now. Write your own statement of support for the hunger strikers.
1. Email your statement to Debra Sweet so it can be widely circulated right away to the prisoners, supporters and media.
2. Send hard copy of the statement to:
--  Secretary Matthew Cate, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, 1515 S Street, Sacramento, CA  95814
--  Governor Jerry Brown, State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814


*****
Greetings from the Texas-Mexico border: On my way to cross again to challenge the USA government illegal and immoral blockage to Cuba. I’m very sorry I can’t be physically present in this solidarity action on behalf of our brothers who are incarcerated in California and that as a way of resisting injustices, human rights violations and oppression, they organize a hunger strike. This is a statement that I want you to make public.

As a priest, as a community activist and as a scholar in the field of criminal justice, these brothers have my support. What they are denouncing is a matter of human rights and human dignity violations. Tomorrow during mass here in Texas I’m going to address this matter to people in Austin, Texas. I also want to raise my voice and solidarity against the Prison Industrial Complex, the one that is responsible for keeping these men in prison. As a spiritual activist, I’m against this capitalist society that is building a class society that at the end produces this type of human segregation for the purpose of social control; incarceration. We know that in the USA rich people get richer and poor people go to prison. Let’s start looking for alternative to incarceration.

In the mean time, we need to support unconditionally our brothers who are in prison in this hunger strike. This type of action in their behalf is only a symptom, let’s deal with the real problems: a class society that produce oppression and exclusion.

In solidarity love, the most important sacrament.

Father Luis Barrios, Ph.D.
Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice-Department of Latin American & Latina/o Studies; Member of Ph.D. faculties in social/personality psychology, Graduate Center-City University of New York; Visiting Professor of Research & Methodology and Criminal Justice; Facultad de Ciencias Jurídicas y Politicas: Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo-UASD and Universidad Iberoamericana-UNIBE, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

 *****

A society can be judged on how it treats the least amongst us. The conditions under which the prisoners at Pelican Bay in California are held under prolonged isolation, which induce the disintegration of the human personality, are plainly torturous and an assault on their humanity and an affront to ours. One Guantanamo was one indecency too many. The demands of the prisoners for humane treatment must be met.

Michael Steven Smith
Attorney at Law
New York, NY
co-host Law and Disorder Radio
Board Member, The Center for Constitutional Rights*
* For identification only


*****

Prisoners are standing up for basic humane conditions, now people must stand with them and say prisoner abuse is unacceptable. The abuse these people are suffering is unacceptable and shows that the U.S. prison system needs major re-revaluation. For too long we have allowed prison conditions to deteriorate while prison populations have increased. It is time to reverse both trends—reduce prison populations and improve conditions—both need dramatic improvement.

Kevin Zeese
It's Our Economy

*****

I write to express support for the prisoners of California who are on a hunger strike to protest their inhumane conditions and treatment. A hunger strike is not something that is done lightly. This hunger strike has unified prisoners who are otherwise at odds with each other. It reflects the severity of their circumstances. Long-term solitary confinement causes permanent psychological harm. Abusive punishment, requiring prisoners to spy on each other and false accusation create an atmosphere of fear and distrust. Rather than healing and rehabilitation of the prisoners, these circumstances worsen their condition. I ask the prison authorities to negotiate in good faith with the prisoners. And I hope that the awareness of the situation will spark a broader movement to end the failed drug war and use evidence-based drug policy and to adopt modern prison policies based on rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Margaret Flowers, M.D.

*****

Those of us who fought in wars for Justice are appalled by the conditions in American prisons. I'm a combat vet of WW2, and I've seen the prison camps of the Third Reich. I've worked in prisons in New York State as a counselor and I've seen goon squads dragging their victims hastily out of sight behind curtains and doors. I don't know what the specific situation is in California, but when I hear that the authorities wont talk with their inmates, I suspect the worst, with good reason. The point is not whether or not these inmates are dangerous criminals, the point is that they are human beings, and must be listened to. This is what our Country is supposed to be about.

Jay Wenk
Town Councilman
Woodstock, NY


*****

The torture of prisoners in California is reprehensible. Prisoners are putting their lives at risk to protest the inhumane and degrading conditions they are subjected to. Their hunger strike is an act of desperation and I urge the prison authorities to listen to the demands and take action to end the torture and abuse within the state penal system.

Eleanor J. Bader
Freelance writer, Brooklyn, NY

*****

It's time for the State of California to begin negotiations with the prisoners, whose legitimate demands must be respected.

Joyce Kozloff
Artist

*****

The United States does not need another Attica!  Our prison system is archaic, racist  and inhuman!
The prisoners demands are JUSTIFIED!  Respond by granting their demands.  Prison Reform is long overdue.  Start today with California!

Frances Goldin

*****

If you've never been locked up, you cannot have a legitimate opinion about what kind of treatment prison inmates deserve.  And that goes for everyone who has ever ignorantly said, "We don't owe these people a hotel room, you know."

If you have been locked up, you know that the Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers and the inmates joining them in other prisons are the most courageous people in this land.  They are facing possible death and certain retribution from a system and from individuals who literally hold the power of life and death over them.

How many times have we driven past one of the rapidly-expanding number of prisons in our country, feeling a small twinge of the despair that smothers everything inside the razor wire?  Usually our minds hurry to other concerns in the realm of the free, but now we are given the opportunity to take a moment and stand in support of our fellow human beings when it could really make a difference.

Please join me in writing to California Governor Jerry Brown, someone with a reputation for compassion and Matthew Cate, Secretary of the Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

We owe it to our own souls.

Mike Ferner
Interim Director, Veterans For Peace

*****

The courage of the striking prisoners, some of whom are reported to be nearing death, to refuse food in order to bring attention to their own plight and that of many others is remarkable.  These clearly are human beings in spite of the abuse they receive and the efforts of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to dehumanize them.

Furthermore, aspects of prisoner treatment in the California system involve extra-judicial punishment, which the striking prisoners are demanding be changed.  I want to point out that this kind of punishment is illegal and must be stopped. 

A statement by a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported in the media that the Department would not be forced to accede to demands because the prisoners have other, appropriate ways to communicate.  What, I ask, can prisoners held over twenty-two hours a day in complete isolation, possibly do to demand redress of just grievances? That they have chosen the hunger strike is a sign that this is the only way left to them to act with human dignity in the barbaric conditions imposed on them. 

I join in their just demands which accord with national policy and I urge that these demands be met immediately before any of these prisoners die.

Nancy Van Ness
American Creative Dance

*****

Your refusal to respond to the prisoner hunger strike begun on July 1, 2011 only confirms to the people of California the validity of the prisoners' allegations and demands.  Your violation of prisoners human rights, their right to live free of cruelty and torture not only harms prisoners, threatens the lives of those on hunger strike to regain these rights but are a violation of international, national and state law.  By your actions you debase all Californians and make clear that we live in a barbaric state.

We, the citizens of California, understand that what you are doing to these prisoners and your refusal to respond to the hunger strike violates the public trust we place in you to operate our prisons.  You are neither above the law nor our scrutiny.  We cannot allow you to stay in positions of power and authority if you abuse them and violate the law as well as prisoners human rights.  Therefore we ask that you immediately address the demands of those on hunger strike, see that they receive immediate medical treatment while you promulgate prison policy that is in line with the International Declaration of Human Rights that you are now violating as well as national and state law.

Kathleen Barry, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita
Author of Unmaking War, Remaking Men
Santa Rosa, California

 

*****

Prisoners Have Nothing to Gain By Eating

Prisoners risking death by refusing food in the Pelican Bay supermax, and those hunger striking in solidarity in prisons around California are a judgment of our sickness. "The degree of civilization in a society," said Dostoyevsky, "can be judged by entering its prisons."

Civilization is something we no longer seem to aspire to. The United States locks up more people and a greater percentage of its people than anyone else. We lock them in training centers for anger and violence. We subject them to rape, assault, humiliation, and isolation. We throw the innocent in with the guilty, the young with the old, the nonviolent with the violent, the hopeful with those who've lost all interest in life.

And we routinely subject large numbers of prisoners to the torture of near-total isolation. We lock human beings in little boxes for 22 or 23 hours per day. When it's done to an accused whistleblower like Bradley Manning, we protest. But what about when it's done to thousands of people, many of them baselessly accused of being members of gangs? Where is the outrage?

We should be refusing to eat. We should be shutting down our government with nonviolent action. We should be risking the lives we have. Instead the burden has fallen to those who have little or no lives to risk. The prisoners themselves are taking action and gaining power from behind bars.

Look at the prisoners' demands. They want an end to group punishment of individual rules violations. That seems like a basic requirement of justice. Bombing a nation because some terrorists spent time there may make sense to our politicians, but it is horribly unjust to the people living and dying under the bombs. Stopping and searching people who look like they might be immigrants may make sense to those whose hatred of immigrants is distorting their thinking, but it is outrageously unjust from the perspective of the innocent people repeatedly harassed. Punishing everyone in a prison for something one person did make sense if the goal is cruelty. But will the innocent prisoners thus abused eventually emerge from prison believing they've been given fair treatment by a justice system with which they should comply? Or will they be released thirsting for vengeance?  Or thirst for vengeance while never being released? And will we be able to keep what we have done to them secret from ourselves?  Will we not continue to grow more ill?

They want an end to the use of completely unreliable criteria for labeling a prisoner a gang member and on that basis subjecting them to the torture of isolation. Should a tattoo or the word of someone offered decent food in exchange for a name really be the test of whether a human being should be placed at risk of severe mental damage? Should anything? Would we stand for another nation treating people this way? Don’t tell me it's necessary and responsible. It would cost a lot less money to offer children decent schools and food and guidance than it does to imprison men. This is a luxury. It's a sick indulgence of a wealthy country. We can afford to engage in massive sadistic cruelty. But that shouldn't mean that we have to do it.

They want compliance with the recommendations found in the latest study our government produced to make itself feel better despite ignoring it. They want an end to the long-term solitary confinement that takes people's minds away. They are risking death by starvation to end death by deprivation of human contact. We could risk a lot less to do it for them.

They want adequate food provided to all prisoners and an end to the practice of depriving some and feeding others as a tool for manipulating people like wild beasts. They want basic decency, including the ability to make one phone call per week. They want standards of health and humanity that do not even begin to approach those we are required by international treaty to provide to prisoners of war. For that matter, they want to cease being treated in a manner that would get you locked up with them if you treated a dog or a cat that way.

All the prisoners are asking of us is that we spread the word. But in fact they are not asking this of us. They are offering it to us. They are leading us where we need to go, and doing it from behind bars. We would need to go to this place even if we had no prisons. We are allowing our government to destroy the physical environment. Our children will have no more reason to eat than these prisoners do, if we fail to act. We are allowing our government to murder on a massive scale through what it calls the "Defense" Department, a name as skillfully chosen as that of a "Corrections" Department. We need to do some real defending and correcting. Some of us have plans for October. The least among us are showing us how right now.

David Swanson
warisacrime.org

*****
To Whom it May Concern:

The Texas Jail Project is an all volunteer advocacy program that is dedicated to improving the conditions of approximately 70,000 people—mothers, fathers, brothers, sons, sisters, and daughters---incarcerated in Texas jails on any given day. As such, we are very alarmed and concerned about the welfare of the prisoners who have gone on a hunger strike to protest the extreme and harsh conditions in the Security Housing Units. Even though we are in Texas, we protest along with these brothers because we understand that an injustice for one is an injustice for all.  Texas Jail Project advocates for 70,000 people in 254 county jails in Texas and we stand steadfast and in solidarity with these prisoners striking for human decency.  We call on the prison authorities to meet their demands and end this inhuman treatment.  To the hunger strikers we offer this: Have courage and know that we are with you in thought and spirit.

Texas Jail Project
Diana Claitor, Diane Wilson, and Kinnu Krishnaveni

*****

Today’s Supermaxes make Alcatraz and the old chaingangs look like resorts.

It is cruel and inhumane to warehouse any person in solitary confinement, much less confine prisoners to the torture of today’s cement box “Supermaxes” — windowless cells devoid of fresh air or sunlight; and prisoners devoid of any occupation, devoid of any meaningful interaction with others.

It is a national disgrace that we are failing to protect prisoners from such cruel and inhumane treatment, in flagrant disregard of accepted prison protocol, much less the Geneva Convention. It is time to put an end to brutality in the name of justice, and to reject the primitive, retributive “old testament” notion of punishment for its own sake.

The hungerstriking prisoners’ requests are pathetically modest. Why shouldn’t they be allowed a weekly phone call or a wall calendar or their weekly meal allotments? Most important is their right as human beings to meaningful contact and activities, and freedom from “extreme physical deprivations that are known to cause lasting harm.”

Whatever any particular prisoner may (or may not) have done or been convicted of, does not provide license to the rest of our society to dehumanize and brutalize a whole class of persons. If, with a light conscience, our society deliberately subjects a captive human being, relentlessly and cruelly, to deplorable living conditions, and physical and mental torture, we rob not only them but ourselves of our own humanity.

Close down the Supermaxes.

Annie Laurie Gaylor
Co-President
Freedom From Religion Foundation
ffrf.org

*****

As an activist and organizer for the last five years the Pelican Bay Prison Hunger Strike resonates with me deeply. For as an activist and organizer I have been appalled by the treatment of men, women, and children indefinitely detained and tortured under the U.S. government’s sham “ war on terror” begun under Bush and now legitimized Obama. I have been a part of World Can’t Wait’s effort to build a movement of resistance to end the U.S wars/occupations and torture.  As more and more is coming out about the deplorable conditions that the prisoners endure at Pelican Bay and a majority of the prisons around the U.S. it has occurred to me that perhaps how our government treats prisoners here only serves as a blueprint for how our government treats those it is holding indefinitely abroad. The reality is that this kind of treatment of people whether it be here or in Guantanamo or Bagram Detention Facility in Afghanistan it is an implement to dehumanize and oppress whole generations and whole sections of people lest they dare lift their heads up and dream for something better from this world and demand to be treated as humans. It is for these reasons that all of us must stand with the prisoners on the hunger strike at Pelican Bay and those being held prisoner in our name by our government abroad.
 
Jill McLaughlin
World Can’t Wait Steering Committee Member

*****

I am in TOTAL support of the California prisoner's hunger strike but I don't want anyone to die. This is keeping me awake nights and I am fasting today in solidarity with them. How can this happen in a civilised country..?? God knows they are not asking for much. How can such evil be allowed to continue at a prison which has already been investigated?? The CDCR is not fit for purpose..it neither corrects anything nor rehabilitates anyone it is a killing machine. Matthew Cate and Jerry Brown are ultimately responsible ..and they WILL be judged.   

Regina Kaniewski

*****

The prison-industrial-media-banking complex and the military-industrial-media-banking complex feed on all of us; they both are rooted in lies, injustice, war, and indignity.  Today, our policy makers prop up poverty, militarism, and racism with their words and their votes.  We, the people, need a revolution of values, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us.  You, my brave imprisoned strikers, are at the forefront of that revolution. Your stand is the ultimate stand, representing the dignity of the rest of us in a country whose leadership has gone mad.

Cynthia McKinney
Former Georgia Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party Presidential Nominee

*****

I write with alarm at the desperate situation that prisoners at Pelican Bay and elsewhere face today. Some of the prisoners are already in renal failure, yet the prison administrators continue to refuse to even meet with prison representatives to discuss the prisoners’ just and humane demands.

A society’s level of humanity or inhumanity can be read by looking at how it treats those it incarcerates. By that measure, we as a people and society are in deep trouble. The prisoners who have stood up and said “No more” and I would rather die than see these injustices and this inhumanity continue, are doing what real human beings must do. They deserve our support and solidarity, for they carry the weight of our collective souls on their shoulders.

I am a criminologist and have studied, taught, and written about prisons and jails for many years. It therefore comes as no surprise to me to hear that prisoners are systematically mistreated or that prisons are overcrowded and subjected to the kind of conditions that you would create if you actually wanted to exacerbate the problem of crime and poverty.  What is heartrending and striking, however, is observing the startling parallels between how much more savage prisons have become and the impact of the so-called “war on terror” (WOT) on our society more generally.

There is a general degrading underway of public administration and political leadership that emanates from the very highest levels of the U.S. government, with the willing collusion - or at least silence - of much of the major media. In that degrading of public leadership, the most draconian policies are now becoming the standard operating procedure and rule by lies and terror, and indifference to the fates of people who do not toe the official line, are now the rule.

In the WOT people who the government dislikes, both actual terrorists and those who are merely dissenters engaging in or merely contemplating dissenting speech and/or assembly and/or thought are all being labeled enemies of the state. The repressive powers of the state are being expanded and intensified to pre-emptively repress people from exercising Constitutional rights such as free speech. In prisons the prison administrators likewise label prisoners “gang members” as a form of repression, designating people as gang members whether they are actually gang members or not. 

In the WOT torture and indefinite detention has been and is being used to extract “confessions” from detainees with the net cast exceedingly widely to include mostly entirely innocent individuals. This is not a mistake or an accident. The purpose of torture is not intelligence. The purpose of torture is terror and that is why capricious treatment of innocents is a core component of torture: you are supposed to be terrorized by its use into complying with whatever authority tells you to do and think because you could be the next innocent victim. In prisons torture and long-term isolation are being used to terrorize prisoners. “Debriefings” are being used in an attempt to get prisoners to “name names,” much as the House UnAmerican Activities Committee of the McCarthy period did. “Naming names” is seen by those who act as inquisitors as the ultimate act of submission to authority because you are implicating your friends and family.

The WOT is a form of collective punishment and prison administrators are using collective punishment in prisons, with punishment meted out to everyone, not just the individuals who have actually violated rules. 

These parallels are not a coincidence. They are a natural and inevitable consequence of rule by plutocrats. People who see this must find every way to resist and to support those who are resisting. A new day must come, for the darkness grows ever deeper and malignant.

Dennis Loo
Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Cal Poly Pomona

*****

Pelican Bay Haiku
Notes on Torture & Survival

by devorah major

six feet by ten feet
wider than a lead coffin
no natural light
sometimes only darkness
a punishment for surviving
so many shades of black

or weeks of  light bulb
days have no rhythm but howls
torture knows no clocks

twenty three hours
every day alone boxed
one hour to breathe wind

will a cloud drift by
a patch of summer blue sky
a black bird’s feather

perhaps tomorrow
arc of sun will show itself
kiss your skin  golden

*****

I am an Iranian American academic and activist who has worked for peace and justice all her life. One of my chief concerns has always been the harsh conditions in Iranian prisons particularly for Iranian political prisoners. Yesterday, your website was brought to my attention and the California prisoners who are on hunger strike demanding more humane conditions and freedom from torture (including long periods of solitary confinement).

I am writing to you to express my full support for strikers demand to be treated humanely and kept free from physical and psychological torture.

My prayers for peace in the world a best wishes for you.
Best,
Fatemeh Keshavarz

*****

I applaud the men at Pelican Bay for putting their lives on the line in their desperate attempt to show the American people, and the world, the cruel and inhumane conditions in the United States prison system. As Nelson Mandela once said, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  Isn’t it time that we all raise our voice and say “enough?”  How many of these men will have to die before action is taken to end the barbarous conditions that these and so many others in this country are held under in  our prison system?

Candace Gorman
Attorney for Guantanamo prisoners

*****

Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (MCLI) supports the prisoners of the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) and all those prisoners striking in solidarity, in their five core demands upon the CDCR.  MCLI agrees with the prisoners’ contention that the inhumane conditions that exist in the SHU are in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). The CAT defines torture as
         
 “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”  (Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, art. 1, Dec. 10, 1984, S. Treaty Doc. No. 100-20 (1988), 1465 U.N.T.S. 85, ratified by U.S. (1994).)
 
The CDCR policies of long-term isolation, which result in severe mental and physical anguish of SHU prisoners, are in clear violation of CAT.  For many years Pelican Bay has instituted policies punishing prisoners for mere possession of books, newspapers and other literature.  These and other innocent actions have been used by the CDCR as evidence of alleged gang activity justifying SHU imprisonment.  Moreover, Pelican Bay uses “debriefing” sessions, in which a prisoner is expected to inform officials of another prisoner’s gang membership, as virtually the only way for a prisoner to be released from the SHU.  This debriefing policy results in coerced confessions in which prisoners are falsely labeled as gang members.  The prisoners accused of gang membership subsequently face indeterminate SHU sentences and parole becomes practically impossible unless they “die or debrief.”
 
Prisoners are spending decades in sensory and socially-deprived conditions where there is effectively no rehabilitative programming.  These policies continue under the guise of maintaining prison security.  These extreme conditions of physical and mental isolation are not only unconstitutional but they violate international treaty law to which the United States is committed.  As stated by Justice Kennedy in the recent Supreme Court decision, “Prisoners retain the essence of human dignity inherent in all persons.  Respect for that dignity animates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.” (Plata v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 1910, 1928 (2011)).
 
We urge the CDCR to address and remedy the daily human rights violations happening in the Pelican Bay SHU immediately.
 
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (MCLI) is a non-profit in Berkeley California which uses human rights and constitutional law to promote fundamental human rights within the United States.

*****

Dear Governor Brown,

I have been alerted to the indefinite hunger strike of a large number of California prisoners and the perilous state of their health. The conditions of their incarceration have driven them to this desperate action. I call upon you with the greatest urgency to announce to these prisoners that you will heed their five core demands. Your failure to do so places them in even greater risk of bodily harm or death.

I am shocked that these prisoners have been subjected to such conditions. There are absolutely no reasons for this. Even the United Nations has called their imprisonment “inhumane and degrading.”

I would write in greater length if not for the urgency of their condition. The whole world is watching.

Sincerely,

Fr. Robert Bossie, SCJ

*****

Prisoners locked in isolation in the United States penal system are subjected to torturous conditions, without the ability to redress them. This is a question of human rights. It is a sad day when prisoners locked in the hole have to risk their lives with a hunger strike- not to be set free, not for a major change to the prison system, but for the right to be treated with a modicum of human dignity. To have adequate food, and to have it not tampered with by guards. To see natural sunlight. To not be locked isolation indefinitely. Some people are locked in the hole for decades. We can not turn a blind eye to this. I stand in solidarity with the demands of the hunger strike and I salute those of you who are striking and supporting this fight.

Boots Riley
The Coup, Street Sweeper Social Club

*****

To Whom It May Concern:

I support the hunger strike that the prisoners have undertaken to improve conditions in the penal system.

Even though many of those incarcerate have committed serious crimes, many too are there because of an unjust and unequally circumstances endemic to our society.

Despite the reasons or nature of their crime, that does not give us the right to abuse and mistreat them. Rehabilitation cannot occur under horrendous and brutal conditions. Despite their status, or wrongdoing prisoners must be protected under the law and be afforded human treatment and conditions.

If we value our society, if we consider ourselves decent human beings, then we have to defend and protect the rights of the just and the unjust, the criminal and the non-criminal. If we allow deplorable and inhumane conditions to reign in one area, such as our penal institutions, then how can we be vigilant to ensure it does not happen else where?

Prisons are incarcerated to pay for the crimes they committed, but that does not give the government and the powers that be, the right to treat them unfairly and subject them to abuse.

Let us show ourselves humane and protect the rights of all our citizen regardless of where they end up.

I support the demands of the prisoners and urge you to act in manner that shows that we are a civilized society that honors human rights.

Sincerely,

Opal Adisa